Report of General Joseph E. Johnston, C. S. Army, Commanding Army
May 1-September 8, 1864.--THE ATLANTA (GEORGIA) of Tennessee, of Operations December 27, 1863:-July 17, 1864
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXVIII/3 [S# 74]CAMPAIGN.
VINEVILLE, GA., October 20, 1864.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and -Inspector General
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of the Army of Tennessee while it was under my command. Want of the reports of the lieutenant-generals, for which I have waited until now, prevents me from being circumstantial:
In obedience to the orders of the President, received by telegraph at Clinton, Miss., December 18, 1863, I assumed command of the Army of Tennessee at Dalton on the 27th of that month.
Letters from the President and Secretary of War, dated, respectively, December 23 and 20, impressed upon me the importance of soon commencing active operations against the enemy. The relative forces, including the moral effect of the affair of Missionary Ridge, condition of the artillery horses and most of those of the cavalry, and want of field transportation, made it impracticable to effect the wishes of the Executive.
On December 31 the effective total of the infantry and artillery of the army, including two brigades belonging to the Department of Mississippi, was 36.826. The effective total of the cavalry, including Roddey's command at Tuscumbia, was 5,613. The Federal force in our front, exclusive of cavalry, and the Ninth and Twenty-third Corps at Knoxville, was estimated at 80,000. The winter was mainly employed in improving the discipline and equipment of the army and-bringing back absentees to the ranks. At the end of April more than 5,000 had rejoined their regiments.
The horses of the cavalry and artillery had been much reduced in condition by the previous campaign. As full supplies of forage could not be furnished them at Dalton, it was necessary to send about half of each of these arms of service far to the rear, where the country could furnish food. On that account Brigadier-General Roddey was ordered with about three-fourths of his troops from Tuscumbia to Dalton, and arrived at the end of February. On April 2, however, he was sent back to his former position by the Secretary of War.
On January 15 and 16 Baldwin's and Quarles' brigades returned to the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana, to which they belonged. His Excellency Joseph E. Brown added to the army two regiments of State troops, which were used to guard the railroad bridges between Dalton and Atlanta.
On February 17 the President ordered me by telegraph to detach Lieutenant-General Hardee with the infantry of his corps, except Stevenson's division, to aid Lieutenant-General Polk against Sherman in Mississippi. This order was obeyed as promptly as our means of transportation permitted. The force detached was probably exaggerated to Major-General Thomas, for on the 23d the Federal army advanced to Ringgold, on the 24th drove in our outposts, and on the 25th skirmished at Mill Creek Gap and in Crow's Valley, east of Rocky Face Mountain. We were successful at both places. At the latter, Clayton's brigade, after a sharp action of half an hour, defeated double its number. At night it was reported that a U. S. brigade was occupying Dug Gap, from which it had driven our troops. Granbury's (Texas) brigade, returning from Mississippi, had just arrived. It was ordered to march to the foot of the mountain immediately and to retake the gap at sunrise next morning, which was done. In the night of the 26th the enemy retired. On February 27 I suggested to the Executive by letter through General Bragg that all preparations for a forward movement should be made without further delay.
In a letter dated 4th of March General Bragg desired me "to have all things ready at the earliest practicable moment for the movement indicated." In replying, on the 12th, I reminded him that the regulations of the War Department do not leave such preparations to commanders of troops, but to officers who receive their orders from Richmond. On the 18th a letter was received from General Bragg sketching a plan of offensive operations, and enumerating the troops to be used in them under me. I was invited to express my views on the subject. In doing so, both by telegraph and mail, I suggested modifications, and urged that the additional troops named should be sent immediately, to enable us, should the enemy advance, to beat him and then move forward; or should he not advance, do so ourselves General Bragg replied by telegraph on the 21st:
Your dispatch of 19th does not indicate acceptance of plan proposed. Troops can only be drawn from other points for advance. Upon your decision of that point further action must depend.
I replied by telegraph on the 22d:
In my dispatch of 19th I expressly accept taking offensive. Only differ with you as to details. I assume that the enemy will be prepared for advance before we will, and will make it, to our advantage. Therefore I propose, both for offensive and defensive, to assemble our troops here immediately.
This was not noticed. Therefore, on the 25th I again urged the necessity of re-enforcing the Army of Tennessee, because the enemy was collecting a larger force than that of the last campaign, while ours was less than it had been then.
On the 3d of April Lieut. Col. A. H. Cole arrived at Dalton to direct the procuring of artillery horses and field transportation to enable the army to advance. On the 4th, under Orders, [No.] 32, of 1864, I applied to the chief of the conscript service for 1,000 negro teamsters. None were received. On the 8th of April Col. B. S. Ewell, assistant adjutant-general, was sent to Richmond to represent to the President my wish to take the offensive with proper means, and to learn his views. A few days after Brigadier-General Pendleton arrived from Richmond to explain to me the President's wishes on that subject. I explained to him the modification of the plan communicated by General Bragg (which seemed to me essential), which required that the intended re-enforcements should be sent to Dalton. I urged that this should be done without delay, because our present force was not sufficient even for defense, and to enable us to take the offensive if the enemy did not.
On the 1st of May I reported the enemy about to advance. On the 2d Brigadier-General Mercer's command arrived--about 1,400 effective infantry. On the 4th I expressed myself satisfied that the enemy was about to attack with his united forces, and again urged that a part of Lieutenant-General Polk's troops should be put at my disposal. I was informed by General Bragg that orders to that effect were given. Major-General Martin, whose division of cavalry, coming from East Tennessee, had been halted on the Etowah to recruit its horses, was ordered with it to observe the Oostenaula from Resaca to Rome; and Brigadier-General Kelly was ordered, with his command, from the neighborhood of Resaca, to report to Major-General Wheeler. The effective artillery and infantry of the Army of Tennessee after the arrival of Mercer's brigade amounted to 40,900; the effective cavalry to about 4,000. Major-General Sherman's army was composed of that of Missionary Ridge (then 80,000), increased by several thousand recruits; 5,000 men under Hovey; the Twenty-third Corps (Schofield's), from Knoxville; and two divisions of the Sixteenth, from North Alabama. Major-General Wheeler estimated the cavalry of that army at 15,000. On the 5th of May this army was in line between Ringgold and Tunnel Hill, and, after skirmishing on that and the following day, on the 7th pressed back our advanced troops to Mill Creek Gap. On the same day Brigadier-General Cantey reached Resaca with his brigade, and was halted there. On the 8th, at 4 p.m., a division of Hooker's corps assaulted Dug Gap, which was bravely held by two regiments of Reynolds' (Arkansas) brigade and Grigsby's brigade of Kentucky cavalry, fighting on foot, until the arrival of Lieutenant-General Hardee with Granbury's brigade, when the enemy was put to flight. On the 9th five assaults were made on Lieutenant-General Hood's troops on Rocky Face Mountain. All were repulsed. In the afternoon a report was received that Logan's and Dodge's corps were in Snake Creek Gap. Three divisions, under Lieutenant-General Hood, were, therefore, sent to Resaca. On the 10th Lieutenant-General Hood reported the enemy retiring. Skirmishing, to our advantage, continued all day near Dalton. Major-General Bate repulsed a vigorous attack at night. On the 11th Brigadier-General Cantey reported that the enemy was again approaching Resaca. Lieutenant-General Polk arrived there in the evening with Loring's division, and was instructed to defend the place with those troops and Cantey's. The usual skirmishing continued near Dalton. Rocky Face Mountain and Snake Creek Gap, at its south end, completely covered for the enemy the operation of turning Dalton. On the 12th the Federal army, covered by the mountain, moved by Snake Creek Gap toward Resaca. Major-General Wheeler, with 2,200 of ours, attacked and defeated more than double that number of Federal cavalry near Varnell's Station. At night our artillery and infantry marched for Resaca. The cavalry followed on the 13th. On that day the enemy, approaching on the Snake Creek Gap road, was checked by Loring's troops, which gave time for the formation of Hardee's and Hood's corps, just arriving. As the army was formed, the left of Polk's corps was on the Oostenaula and the right of Hood's on the Connesauga. There was brisk skirmishing during the afternoon on Polk's front and Hardee's left. On the 14th the enemy made several attacks, the most vigorous on Hindman's division (Hood s left). All were handsomely repulsed. At 6 p.m. Hood advanced with Stevenson's and Stewart's divisions, supported by two of Walker's brigades, driving the enemy from his ground before night. He was instructed to be ready to continue the offensive next morning. At 9 p.m. I learned that Lieutenant-General Polk's troops had lost a position commanding our bridges, and received from Major-Gen-eral Martin a report that Federal infantry was crossing the Oostenaula, near Calhoun, on a pontoon bridge. The instructions to Lieutenant-General Hood were revoked, and Walker's division sent to the point named by Major-General Martin. On the 15th there was severe skirmishing on the whole front. Major-General Walker reported no movement near Calhoun. Lieutenant-General Hood was directed to prepare to move forward, his right leading, supported by two brigades from Polk's and Hardee's corps. When he was about to move information came from Major-General Walker that the Federal right was crossing the river. To meet this movement Lieutenant-General Hood's attack was countermanded. Stewart's division not receiving the order from corps headquarters in time, attacked unsuccessfully. The army was ordered to cross the Oostenaula that night, destroying the bridges behind it. On the 16th the enemy crossed the Oostenaula. Lieuten-ant-General Hardee skirmished with them successfully near Calhoun. The fact that a part of Polk's troops were still in the rear, and the great numerical superiority of the Federal army, made it expedient to risk battle only when position or some blunder on the part of the enemy might give us counterbalancing advantages. I, therefore, determined to fall back slowly until circumstances should put the chances of battle in our favor, keeping so near the U.S. army as to prevent its sending re-enforcements to Grant, and hoping, by taking advantage of positions and opportunities, to reduce the odds against us by partial engagements. I also expected it to be materially reduced before the end of June by the expiration of the terms of service of many of the regiments which had not re-enlisted. In this way we fell back to Cassville in two marches.
At Adairsville (about midway), on the 17th, Polk's cavalry, under Brigadier-General Jackson, met the army, and Hardee after severe skirmishing checked the enemy. At this point, on the 18th, Polk's and Hood's corps took the direct road to Cassville, Hardee's that by Kingston. About half the Federal army took each road. French's division having joined Polk's corps on the 18th, on the morning of the 19th, when half the Federal army was near Kingston, the two corps at Cassville were ordered to advance against the troops that had followed them from Adairsville, Hood's leading on the right. When this corps had advanced some two miles one of his staff officers reported to Lieutenant-General Hood that the enemy was approaching on the Canton road, in rear of the right of our original position. He drew back his troops and formed them across that road. When it was discovered that the officer was mistaken, the opportunity had passed, by the near approach of the two portions of the Federal army. Expecting to be attacked I drew up the troops in what seemed to me an excellent position--a bold ridge immediately in rear of Cass-ville, with an open valley before it. The fire of the enemy's artillery commenced soon after the troops were formed, and continued until night. Soon after dark Lieutenant-Generals Polk and Hood together expressed to me decidedly the opinion formed upon the observation of the afternoon, that the Federal artillery would render their positions untenable the next day, and urged me to abandon the ground immediately and cross the Etowah. Lieutenant-General Hardee, whose position I thought weakest, was confident that he could hold it. The other two officers were so earnest, however, and so unwilling to depend on the ability of their corps to defend the ground, that I yielded, and the army crossed the Etowah on the 20th, a step which I have regretted ever since. Wheeler's cavalry was placed in observation above and Jackson's below the railroad. On the 22d Major-General Wheeler was sent with all his troops not required for observation to the enemy's rear, and, on the 24th, beat a brigade at Cassville and took or burned 250 loaded wagons. In the mean time the enemy was reported by Jackson's troops moving down the Etowah, as if to cross it near Stilesborough, and crossing on the 23d. On the 24th Polk's and Hardee's corps reached the road from Stilesborough to Atlanta, a few miles south of Dallas, and Hood's four miles from New Hope Church, on the road from Allatoona. On the 25th the enemy was found to be intrenched near and east of Dallas. Hood's corps was placed with its center at New Hope Church, and Polk's and Hardee's ordered between it and the Atlanta road, which Hardee's left was to cover. An hour before sunset Stewart's division, at New Hope Church, was fiercely attacked by Hooker's corps, which it repulsed after a hot engagement of two hours. Skirmishing was kept up on the 26th and 27th. At 5.30 p.m. on the 27th Howard's corps assailed Cleburne's division, and was driven back about dark with great slaughter. In these two actions our troops were not intrenched. Our loss in each was about 450 killed and wounded. On the 27th the enemy's dead, except those borne off, were counted 600. We, therefore, estimated their whole loss at 3,000 at least. It was probably greater on the 25th, as we had a larger force engaged then, both of infantry and artillery. The usual skirmishing was kept up on the 28th. Lieutenant-General Hood was instructed to put his corps in position during the night to attack the enemy's left flank at dawn next morning, the rest of the army to join in the action successively from right to left. On the 29th Lieutenant-General Hood, finding the Federal left covered by a division which had intrenched itself in the night, thought it inexpedient to attack; so reported, and asked for instructions. As the resulting delay made the attack inexpedient, even if it had not been so before, by preventing the surprise upon which success in a great degree depended, he was recalled.
Skirmishing continued until the 4th of June, the enemy gradually extending his intrenched line toward the railroad at Acworth. On the morning of the 5th the army was formed with its left at Lost Mountain, its center near Gilgal Church, and its right near the railroad. On the 7th the right, covered by Noonday Creek, was extended across the Acworth and Marietta road. The enemy approached under cover of successive lines of intrenchments. There was brisk and incessant skirmishing until the 18th. On the 14th the brave Lieutenant-General Polk, distinguished in every battle in which this army had fought, fell by a cannon-shot at an advanced post. Major-General Loring succeeded to the command, which he held until the 7th of July with great efficiency.
On the 4th of June a letter from Governor Brown informed me that he had organized a division of infantry and placed it under my orders. These troops, when ready for service--about the middle of the month, under Maj. Gen. G. W. Smith--were employed to defend the crossings of the Chattahoochee, to prevent the surprise of Atlanta by the Federal cavalry. On the 19th a new line was taken by the army, Hood's corps with its right on the Marietta and Canton road, Loring's on the Kenesaw Mountain, and Hardee's with its left extending across the Lost Mountain and Marietta road. The enemy approached as usual under cover of intrenchments. In this position there was incessant fighting and skirmishing until July 3, the enemy gradually extending his intrenched right toward Atlanta.
On the 20th of June Wheeler, with 1,100 men, routed Garrard's division of Federal cavalry on our right. On the 21st Hood's corps was transferred from right to left, Wheeler's cavalry taking charge of the position which it left. On the 22d Lieutenant-General Hood reported that Hindman's and Stevenson's divisions, of his corps, being attacked, drove back the enemy, taking a line of his breastworks, but were compelled to withdraw by the fire of fortified artillery. On the 24th Hardee's skirmishers repulsed a line of battle, as did Stevenson's, of Hood's corps, on the 25th. On the 27th, after a furious cannonade of several hours, the enemy made a general advance, but was everywhere repulsed with heavy loss. The assaults were most vigorous on Cheatham's and Cleburne's divisions, of Hardee's corps, and French's and Featherston's, of Loring's. Lieutenant-General Hardee reports that Cheatham's division lost in killed, wounded, and missing 195; the enemy opposed to it, by the statement of a staff officer subsequently captured, 2,000. The loss of Cleburne's division, 11; that of the enemy in his front, 1,000. Major-General Loring reported 236 of his corps killed, wounded, and missing, and the loss of the enemy, by their own estimates, at between 2,500 and 3,000, which he thinks very small.
On the 1st of July Major-General Smith's division was ordered to support the cavalry on our left. Their effective total was about 1,500. On the 2d, the enemy's right being nearer to Atlanta by several miles than our left, the army fell back during the night to Smyrna Church. On the 4th Major-General Smith reported that he should be compelled to withdraw on the morning of the 5th to the line of intrenchments covering the railroad bridge and Turner's Ferry. The army was therefore ordered to retire at the same time to that line to secure our bridges. The cavalry crossed the Chattahoochee, Wheeler observing it for some twenty miles above, and Jackson as far below. The enemy advanced as usual covered by intrenchments. Skirmishing continued until the 9th. Our infantry and artillery were brought to the southeast side of the river that night because two Federal corps had crossed it above Powers' Ferry on the 8th and intrenched. Lieutenant-General Stewart took command of his corps on the 7th.
The character of Peach Tree Creek and the numerous fords on the Chattahoochee above its mouth prevented my attempting to defend that part of the river. The broad and muddy channel of the creek would have separated the two parts of the army. It and the river below its mouth were therefore taken as our line. A position on the high ground south of the creek was selected for the army from which to attack the enemy while crossing. The engineer officers, with a large force of negroes, were set to work to strengthen the fortifications of Atlanta, and mount on them seven heavy rifles borrowed from Major-General Maury. The chief engineer was instructed to devote his attention first to the works between the Decatur and Marietta roads; to put them in such condition that they might be held by the State troops, so that the army might attack the enemy in flank when he approached the town. This in the event that we should be unsuccessful in attacking the Federal army in its passage of Peach Tree Creek. After the armies were separated by the Chattahoochee skirmishing became less severe.
On the 14th a division of Federal cavalry crossed the river by Moore's Bridge, near Newnan, but was driven back by Armstrong's brigade, sent by Brigadier-General Jackson to meet it. On the 15th Governor Brown informed me orally that he hoped to re-enforce the army before the end of the month with near 10,000 State troops. On the 17th the main body of the Federal army crossed the Chattahoochee between Roswell and Powers' Ferry. At 10 p.m., while I was giving Lieutenant-Colonel Presstman, chief engineer, instructions in regard to his work of the next day on the fortifications of Atlanta, a telegram was received from General Cooper informing me, by direction of the Secretary of War, that as I had failed to arrest the advance of the enemy to the vicinity of Atlanta, and expressed no confidence that I could defeat or repel him, I was relieved from the command of the Army and Department of Tennessee, which would be immediately turned over to General Hood. This was done at once. On the morning of the 18th the enemy was reported to be advancing, and at General Hood's request I continued to give orders until afternoon, placing the troops in the position selected near Peach Tree Creek.
In transferring the command to General Hood I explained my plans to him: First, to attack the Federal army while crossing Peach Tree Creek. If we were successful great results might be hoped for, as the enemy would have both the creek and the river to intercept his retreat. Second, if unsuccessful, to keep back the enemy by intrenching, to give time for the assembling of the State troops promised by Governor Brown; to garrison Atlanta with those troops, and when the Federal army approached the town attack it on its most exposed flank with all the Confederate troops. These troops, who had been for seventy-four days in the immediate presence of the enemy--laboring and fighting daily, enduring toil, exposure, and danger with equal cheerfulness, more confident and high spirited than when the Federal army presented itself near Dalton--were then inferior to none who ever served the Confederacy.
Under the excellent administration of Brigadier-General Mackall, chief of staff, the troops were well equipped and abundantly supplied. The draft animals of the artillery and quartermasters department were in better condition on the 18th of July than on the 5th of May. We lost no material in the retreat except the four field pieces mentioned in the accompanying report of General Hood.
I commenced the campaign with General Bragg 's army of Missionary Ridge, with one brigade added (Mercer's and two taken away (Baldwin's and Quarles'). That opposed to us was Grant's army of Missionary Ridge, then estimated at 80,000 by our principal officers, increased, as I have stated, by two corps, a division, and several thousand recruits--in all, at least 30,000 men. The cavalry of that army was estimated by Major-General Wheeler at 15,000. The re-enforcements which joined our army amounted to 15,000 infantry and artillery and 4,000 cavalry. Our scouts reported much greater numbers joining the U.S. army--garrisons and bridge guards from Tennessee and Kentucky, relieved by 100-days' men, and the Seventeenth Corps, with 2,000 cavalry.
The loss of our infantry and artillery from the 5th of May had been about 10,000 in killed and wounded, and 4,700 from all other causes, mainly slight sickness produced by heavy cold rains, which prevailed in the latter half of June. These and the slightly wounded were beginning to rejoin their regiments.
For want of reports I am unable to give the loss or the services of the cavalry, which was less under my eye than the rest of the army. Its effective strength was increased by about 2,000 during the campaign. The effective force transferred to General Hood was about 41,000 infantry and artillery and 10,000 cavalry.
According to the opinions of our most experienced officers, daily reports of prisoners, and statements of Northern papers, the enemy's loss in action could not have been less than five times as great as ours. In the cases in which we had the means of estimating it, it ranged from 7 to 1 to 91 to 1, compared with ours, and averaged 13 to 1. The Federal prisoners concurred in saying that their heaviest loss occurred in the daily attacks made in line of battle upon our skirmishers in their rifle-pits. Whether they succeeded in dislodging our skirmishers or not, their loss was heavy and ours almost nothing.
At Dalton the great numerical superiority of the enemy made the chances of battle much against us, and even if beaten they had a safe refuge behind the fortified pass of Ringgold and in the fortress of Chattanooga. Our refuge in case of defeat was in Atlanta, 100 miles off, with three rivers intervening. Therefore, victory for us could not have been decisive, while defeat would have been utterly disastrous. Between Dalton and the Chattahoochee we could have given battle only by attacking the enemy intrenched, or so near intrenchments that the only result of success to us would have been his falling back into them, while defeat would have been our ruin. In the course pursued our troops, always fighting under cover, had very trifling losses compared with those they inflicted, so that the enemy's numerical superiority was reduced daily and rapidly, and we could reasonably have expected to cope with the Federal army on equal ground by the time the Chattahoochee was passed. Defeat on this side of that river would have been its destruction. We, if beaten, had a place of refuge in Atlanta too strong to be assaulted and too extensive to be invested. I had also hoped that by the breaking of the railroad in its rear the Federal army might be compelled to attack us in a position of our own choosing, or to a retreat easily converted into a rout. After we crossed the Etowah five detachments of cavalry were successively sent with instructions to destroy as much as they could of the railroad between Dalton and the Etowah. All failed because too weak. We could never spare a sufficient body of cavalry for this service, as its assistance was absolutely necessary in the defense of every position we occupied. Captain Harvey, an officer of great courage and sagacity, was detached on this service with 100 men on the 11th of June, and remained for several weeks near the railroad, frequently interrupting (although not strong enough to prevent) its use.
Early in the campaign the statements of the strength of the cavalry in the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana given me by Lieutenant-General Polk, just from the command of that department, and my telegraphic correspondence with his successor, Lieut. Gen. S. D. Lee, gave me reason to hope that a competent force could be sent from Mississippi and Alabama to prevent the use of the railroad by the U.S. army. I, therefore, suggested it to the President directly on the 13th of June and 16th of July, and through General Bragg on the 3d, 12th, 13th, 16th, and 26th of June, and also to Lieutenant-General Lee on the 10th of May and 3d, 11th, and 16th of June. I did so in the belief that this cavalry would serve the Confederacy better by causing the defeat of Major-General Sherman's army than by repelling a raid in Mississippi.
Besides the causes of my removal alleged in the telegram announcing it, various other accusations have been made against me; some published in newspapers, in such a manner as to appear to have official authority, and others circulated orally in Georgia and Alabama, and imputed to General Bragg. The principal are--that I persistently disregarded the instructions of the President; that I would not fight the enemy; that I refused to defend Atlanta; that I refused to communicate with General Bragg in relation to the operations of the army; that I disregarded his entreaties to change my course and attack the enemy, and gross exaggerations of the losses of the army. I had not the advantage of receiving the President's instructions in relation to the manner of conducting the campaign, but as the conduct of my predecessor in retreating before odds less than those confronting me had apparently been approved, and as General Lee, in keeping on the defensive and retreating toward Grant's objective point under circumstances like mine, was adding to his great fame, both in the estimation of the administration and people, I supposed that my course would not be censured. I believed then, as I do now, that it was the only one at my command which promised success.
I think that the foregoing narrative shows that the Army of Tennessee did fight, and with at least as much effect as it had ever done before. The proofs that I intended to hold Atlanta are--the fact that under my orders the work of strengthening its defenses was going on vigorously, the communication on the subject made by me to General Hood, and the fact that my family was in the town. That the public workshops were removed and no large supplies deposited in the town, as alleged by General Bragg, were measures of common prudence, and no more indicated an intention to abandon the place than the sending the wagons of an army to the rear on a day of battle proves a foregone determination to abandon the field.
While General Bragg was at Atlanta, about the middle of July, we had no other conversation concerning the army there than such as I introduced. He asked me no questions regarding its operations, past or future; made no comments upon them nor suggestions, and had not the slightest reason to suppose that Atlanta would not be defended. He told me that the object of his journey was to confer with Lieutenant-General Lee and communicate with General E. K. Smith in relation to re-enforcements for me. He talked much more of affairs in Virginia than in Georgia, asserting, what I believed, that General Sherman's army outnumbered Grant's, and impressed me with the belief that his visits to me were unofficial.
A copy of a brief report by General Hood accompanies this.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. JOHNSTON,
Respectfully submitted to the Secretary of War.
Adjutant and Inspector General.
NOVEMBER 11, 1864.
Respectfully submitted for the information of the President.
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
NOVEMBER 12, 1864.
The case as presented is very different from the impression created by other communications contemporaneous with the events referred to. The absence of the reports of subordinates suggests a reason for the want of fullness on many important points.
RICHMOND, December 21, 1864.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General:
GENERAL: In referring to my report of October 20, in your office, I saw and read the President's indorsement upon it. I respectfully ask that His Excellency will permit the substance at least of those communications to be furnished to me, as well as the names of their authors. My object is to meet as fully as possible whatever in those letters differs from the statements in my report. I regret the want of fullness in the report, but am gratified to find that the President understands the cause of it.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. JOHNSTON,
Memoranda of the operations at Cassville on May 19, 1864.
VINEVILLE, GA., September 22, 1864.
On the morning of the 19th, after General Johnston returned from the right of the line, and while Lieutenant-General Hood's corps was moving to attack the enemy, I was by General Johnston ordered to return to General Hood and inform him that General Hardee reported a heavy force advancing on him, he (Hardee) being on the left, and to direct General Hood not to make too wide a movement; not to separate himself too far from the left of the army, but if the enemy advanced upon him to strike him promptly and hard.
On reaching General Hood, who was in a field in rear of one of his divisions, I informed him that the enemy was advancing in force on Hardee. He instantly said, "And they are on me, too. The cavalry gave me no warning. I only learned the fact through officers of my own staff, and I am now falling back to form a line farther to the rear." I asked him, "What road are the enemy moving on?" He replied, "On both the Canton and Spring Place road; and did you not see them?" I answered that I had seen no enemy. I then rode back. Having gone some few hundred yards, and remembering that I had not given the order, and that circumstances might change in General Hood's front and the order become important, I rode back and overtook General Hood on his way to the rear, seeking then a position on which to establish a line for his troops, then falling back; communicated the order, and riding some distance with him to see where he would place his troops, I returned to General Johnston and reported the information and the fact that General Hood was then forming on a range of hills crossing the Canton road.
W. W. MACKALL,
Memorandum of conference held at request of President Davis, and under his instructions, with General J. E. Johnston, respecting the principal facts relative to the enemy and to our own condition and as to the operations of the Army of Tennessee.
DALTON, GA., April 16, 1864.
Reaching Dalton about midnight of the 14th, I had the privilege of an extended interview with General Johnston at his headquarters during the greater part of the 15th instant, and the advantage of General Wheeler's presence for several hours, he being conversant with the strength and distribution of the enemy's forces in Tennessee, and with the contour and resources of the country. As desired by the President, I endeavored to present to the general's mind what I understood to be the President's views, and what were my own convictions, concerning the importance--indeed, necessity--of the earliest and most efficient aggressive operations possible by the Army of Tennessee, on about the following grounds:
First. To take the enemy at disadvantage while weakened, it is believed, by sending troops to Virginia, and having others absent still on furlough.
Second. To break up his plans by anticipating and frustrating his combinations.
Third. So to press him here as to prevent his heavier massing in Virginia.
Fourth. To beat him, it is hoped, and greatly gain strength in supplies, men, and productive territory.
Fifth. To prevent the waste of the army incident to inactivity.
Sixth. To inspirit it and the country, and to depress the enemy, involving the greatest results.
Seventh. To obviate the necessity of falling back likely to occur if the enemy be allowed to consummate his own plans.
To these considerations, received by the general with courteous attention, he replied, in effect, that no one could more thoroughly appreciate them than he did, nor could the demands of the country be more sensibly felt by any than by himself; that he cordially approved of an aggressive movement, sanctioned by his judgment, and would make it the very moment he was reasonably strengthened therefor, that movement being, however, different from the advance into Tennessee, which had been previously suggested to him, and promising fair results without the hazard of ruin involved in the other. In the existing state of facts his judgment could not approve the proposal immediately to advance into Tennessee, so as to encounter the enemy far beyond Chattanooga, for these reasons:
First. The enemy is, in fact, not weakened in Tennessee, but is, if anything, stronger than at Missionary Ridge. General Wheeler estimated their force to be--Fifteenth Corps (McPherson's), from Decatur to Bridgeport, 15,000; First (Hooker's), from Nashville to Chattanooga, 14,000; Fourteenth (Palmer s), at Chattanooga and Ringgold, 18,000; Fourth (Howard's), at Cleveland, 18,000; making of infantry proper, 65,000; also Twenty-third (Schofield's mounted infantry), at Knoxville, 12,000, and Hovey's division, Ringgold, 6,000; cavalry, 15,000, and artillery, 5,000; making an effective total of 103,000, besides about 15,000 negro troops, and 5,009 unassigned (but armed) Tennesseeans.
Second. This army--34,500 infantry, 2,811 artillery, 2,085 effective cavalry, making in all 39,396, with additions now contingently proposed from General Polk--will not be strong enough to advance at once into Tennessee.
Third. The immense trains essential for supporting the army through such a wilderness must be greatly exposed, and would render the force needed for their protection powerless against the enemy.
Fourth. Transportation for these not adequately available for a month. This Lieutenant-Colonel Cole, superintendent transportation C. S. Army, stated in my presence.
Fifth. Means for securing supplies in presence of the enemy would be inadequate, even if the abundant country of Middle Tennessee were reached.
Sixth. The enemy is apparently preparing to advance before we can.
Seventh. Disaster beyond the Tennessee would probably prove ruinous--this army be destroyed, Georgia occupied, the Confederacy pierced in its vitals, and all the Southwest lost.
On these grounds he deems it wisest and his duty--
First. To stand on the defensive till strengthened; to watch, prepare, and then strike as soon as possible.
Second. To have sent him immediately all the troops that can be furnished from other points.
Third. At the earliest day possible to advance to Ringgold, attack the enemy there, and, if successful, as expected, if it be done promptly, strike at' Cleveland; then cut the railroad, control the river, thus isolate East Tennessee. This would probably force the enemy to a general battle this side the Tennessee.
Fourth. Simultaneously send large cavalry force (General Polk's) to enemy's rear in Middle Tennessee. These operations might enforce the evacuation of the Tennessee Valley and render safely practicable an advance into the heart of the State.
Fifth. Should the enemy ultimately succeed against this course, in penetrating to Rome, or in some similar move, to take position where he could be met and probably beaten, and then press him back to the Ohio.
In the views thus presented I understood General Wheeler, who was present most of the time, mainly to concur. An immediate advance into Middle Tennessee with, say, 15,000 additional troops, if to be had, via Washington, toward McMinnville, and successful assault upon the enemy he regarded, perhaps, as not quite so hazardous as did General Johnston, though he considered it a critical question, and, like the general, looked upon disaster there as probably fatal.
In view of the facts exhibited and reasons urged I did not feel justified in pertinaciously advocating the particular movement into Tennessee, and could not but admit that the mode of attack preferred by General Johnston might, on the whole, prove most proper. The enemy's force here is evidently greater than has been supposed. A result differing by only about 2,000 as to his numbers was reached by data from time to time derived by an officer (not consulting scout reports) from the enemy's papers respecting regiments, brigades, divisions, and corps, so that the estimate is probably not far from the truth.
From reports of scouts just sent by General Wheeler, and shown me by General Johnston, it seems clear that the enemy is preparing for a great effort here. If so, it will no doubt be wise to have everything at once ready for the most telling blow that can be dealt him.
This memorandum has been read to General Johnston and approved by him as correct.
W. N. PENDLETON,
Brig. Gen. and Chief of Arty., Army of Northern Virginia.
APRIL 21, 1864.
General Bragg for consideration and consultation with General Pendleton, with a view to further conference.
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES,
Richmond, April 2, 1864.
Respectfully returned to His Excellency the President.
The forward movement against the enemy, so much desired, and which promised such large results, has been so long delayed that he has been enabled to make combinations which render it now inexpedient, if not impracticable, unless we can beat him on this side the Tennessee River. His forces seem to me considerably overestimated. Hooker's corps, for instance, first carried to Tennessee 12,000 men; it has lost heavily since in battle in Lookout Valley and again on the mountains; Palmer's and Howard's (three divisions each) I should suppose about 30,000 effectives in all; the Twenty-third (Schofield's mounted infantry) does not exceed 8,000, and has to confront Buckner in East Tennessee, who has a superior force to it, it should, therefore, be deducted. Hovey's division forms part of the corps in North Alabama (Fifteenth), called McPherson's. This would make these corps--
Of 15,000 each ---- 45,000 Hooker's corps, say ---- 10,000 Cavalry 10,000 Artillery 5,000 ---- 15,000 Total ---- 70,000
This I consider a very liberal estimate, and not more than 60,000 of it can be brought against us in front of Chattanooga. To meet the present aspect of affairs, as the enemy seems to have been nearly all drawn away from Mississippi and West Tennessee, I propose to throw Loring's division and one more brigade from General Polk's department (say 7,000 men) to re-enforce Johnston, and require him to execute promptly his own proposition to strike first at Ringgold and then at Cleveland; Buckner in the mean time to threaten Knoxville. While this is being done Forrest might move into or threaten Middle Tennessee, and Roddey hold the enemy in North Alabama, so as to prevent his concentration on our front. This can all be done without the elaborate preparation now deemed necessary for an advance, and may be attended with good results, though it holds out no such promise as did the plan of moving before the enemy made his combinations. If this is to be done it should be as prompt as possible, that further combinations both there and here may be prevented.
I inclose herewith a letter left with me by Colonel Ewell just previous to his departure.
General Bragg for consideration in connection with inquiry made of General Polk.
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES,
Richmond, April 26, 1864.
Respectfully returned to His Excellency the President.
The removal of portions of Buckner's command this way, and the distance of the whole from Knoxville, will enable the enemy to use their force there against Johnston. Late accounts represent his corps in North Alabama, moving toward Chattanooga. The evidences of Hooker's presence in Tennessee are strongest. There is no force now in Mississippi to compete even with our cavalry. I, therefore, most urgently press the immediate and unconditional moving of Loring's division to Dalton. A copy of my dispatch to Lieutenant-General Polk is herewith sent. He does not meet it in his reply.
[Inclosure No. 1.]
Richmond, Va., April 20, 1864.
General BRAXTON BRAGG,
Commanding, &c. :
GENERAL: To prevent misunderstanding, and to test the fact of my having properly carried out my instructions, permit me to make a recapitulation and to ask permission to supply deficiencies before leaving Richmond, which I expect to do this evening, if, in the verbal communication I had the honor to make to the President in your presence, I was not sufficiently full and explicit. My object was to explain to His Excellency--
First. That General Johnston in his correspondence with the War Department and Government had no intention of expressing a disinclination to begin offensive operations when prepared and re-enforced. That, on the contrary, he was anxious for an advance, being satisfied as to its expediency and necessity, and was, and had been since assuming command of the Army of Tennessee, willing to attempt to execute with vigor and zeal and to the best of his ability a plan formed by himself, or any the Government might determine on, for assuming the offensive; that his objections were meant for and intended to apply only to the route proposed; that he thought the selection of the plan of campaign had better be deferred till everything was ready, and that it was his intention to take, when possible, the initiative, unless anticipated by the enemy, and to force a battle on this side of the Tennessee River; or if he could not, to immediately advance.
Second. That as a condition precedent to his advance the increase of his transportation was absolutely necessary. Commissary supplies for a march of 130 miles through a mountainous and barren region must be carried; that after reducing the transportation for baggage to the minimum nearly 1,000 additional wagons would be required to subsist the army, re-enforced as proposed. For these, having no means of procuring any he had to depend on the Quartermaster's Department, and that he had soon after reaching Georgia made this want known to the Government, but had as yet obtained nothing; and further that a like want existed as to artillery horses, 1,000 of which had been promised, but not yet delivered.
Third. That to secure an advance it was advisable and essential to send forward the troops intended to re-enforce the army at once, not only to gain time by perfecting the organization, but also to render certain a defeat of the enemy should he take the offensive first.
Fourth. That the strength of the enemy now at Chattanooga, estimated last fall at 80,000, is not believed to be less, the best available information being that, by the return of the wounded and accession of recruits, he is now as strong, and that McPherson with his troops, reported at 15,000, is on the Tennessee and en route for Chattanooga.
Fifth. That the infantry force in Mississippi and the garrison of Mobile do not seem to be needed there now, and might be advantageously employed in re-enforcing the Army of Tennessee.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
BENJ. S. EWELL,
Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.
See pencil-mark on margin calling attention to statement in reference to wagons and artillery horses. Compare this with the report of General Pendleton communicating views and wants of General Johnston.
RICHMOND, [April] 23, 1864.
Lieut. Gen. L. POLK:
If Loring's division is not essential for immediate operations in your department, order it to join Johnston at Dalton. It should move direct to Rome by Blue Mountain Railroad, marching over the unfinished part and taking its transportation with [it]. Answer by telegraph.
[lnclosure No. 3.]
DEMOPOLIS, April 25, 1864.
I refer you to my dispatch of 17th instant to General Cooper. I have no reason to believe it is the enemy's intention to abandon the movement therein indicated, and in view of the important interests at stake think it not prudent to remove that division from my front for the present.
[lnclosure No. 4.]
DEMOPOLIS, April 17, 1864.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:
Scouts report from Vicksburg and Memphis a continued movement of enemy's troops up the Mississippi; also, arrival of troops at Waterloo from below by way of Tennessee River. They march them around the shoals on the north side to Decatur, Where they are concentrating. There are few troops on the Mississippi. Following just received:
On the 10th there were two divisions of infantry and four regiments of cavalry at Decatur, one division of infantry at Athens, one on the way from Nashville, and one division at Huntsville--all under command of Logan, and preparing for a movement in two columns down Jones' Valley in direction of Tuscaloosa and Coosa Valley toward Selma, The commands number about 20,000.
[Indorsement on Jacket.]
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